If my husband passes away, what assets might my stepchildren (his children) be entitled to from his estate? This is a common question with second (or third marriages) and blended families. Questions frequently arise about Social Security, investments and savings, when the husband is divorced from the children’s mother and is paying child support until each child turns 18. Estate planning when stepchildren are involved should be done as soon as possible, per Beck & Lenox Estate Planning & Elder Law, LLC.
Nj.com’s recent article entitled “Are my husband’s kids from another marriage due assets when he dies?” says that these questions demonstrate why estate planning is critical to revisit after a divorce. You can take action to make certain that you’re taken care of, but if you don’t do this at the time of the divorce, it could be too late.
Let’s look at what you should know about beneficiaries and wills. First, beneficiary designations supersede a will. Make sure that all beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries are consistent with your wishes. There are beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, pensions, life insurance policies, annuities and other accounts that take precedence over what may be stated in a will.
While New Jersey does not provide for beneficiary designations on certain assets like a house, vehicles, and real estate, many other states do. For assets without a beneficiary, it’s important to determine the way in which they’re titled.
The titling of assets has an effect on how the assets will be distributed after death. Thus, when married again, spouses should review and update their wills to have an idea of how a spouse’s estate would be disbursed at his or her death.
If a husband is paying child support, divorce decrees will often dictate that he purchase life insurance to cover that obligation upon his death. Therefore, there may be a life insurance policy for the children from a first marriage.
With Social Security, if a spouse remains unmarried after the spouse’s death, he or she can claim a survivor spousal benefit as early as age 60, and if he or she is caring for the spouse’s children from the first marriage who are under 16 years of age, he or she may be entitled to receive a payment earlier. The deceased spouse’s unmarried children can also claim a survivor benefit until age 18, or longer if in high school or disabled.
If you get remarried and are concerned about your estate planning when stepchildren are involved, you and your spouse should make an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorney like Beck & Lenox as soon as possible. You do not want your spouse’s death to be the occasion where you realize estate planning was neglected.
Reference: nj.com (Aug. 4, 2021) “Are my husband’s kids from another marriage due assets when he dies?”